Written by Ross Locksley on 07 Nov 2022
Distributor One Peace Books • Author/Artist Kugayama Reki • Price £9.99
Isekai is, it seems, very much the flavour of the month when it comes to manga - being reincarnated, summoned or otherwise inserted into a fantasy world seems to have touched on a current zeitgeist, and subsequently we find ourselves with another new entry to the genre, The Wrong Way to Use Healing Magic.
3 teens are summoned to a new world to act as heroes for a beleaguered Kingdom - everyman Ken Usato and rising-star school council members, Kazuki Ryusen and Suzune Inukami are whisked away, but the genre is such a trope by this point that all three recognise what's happening when they're enveloped in a magic circle. The knowingness of the whole thing is actually quite charming, and while it's not an entirely fresh angle, it does at least help to ensure the reader feels that their likely exposure to the upcoming tropes is acknowledged.
In keeping with the underdog approach, it's really no surprise that Usato is not apparently destined to become a great warrior like his peers, but instead shows an aptitude for healing magic, a discipline that was, until recently, looked down on. As such, when he's interned with his fellow healers, they're not so much healers as a rag-tag group of complete misfits ruled by the iron fist of "Sister Rose".
The first volume is largely an introduction to the wider conflict and the trio's place within it. The Demon Lord's army is on the move, and Usato must use the time he has to train himself into a battlefield medic - this requires an alarming amount of drill-trailing, making his body tough as nails and pushing his will to the limit. We meet a wider range of supporting characters, from enemy combatants to friendly locals, including one mysterious "Beastkin" girl who shows our hero a calamatous vision of the future.
This allows the book to create a sense of urgency, even if the setting and even largely the characters will be familiar to anyone who has spent time with the isekai before. This really gives us the book's greatest strength and weakness - it isn't particularly different to many isekai on the shelves already, and in fact could very easily slot into a variety of them as a side-story. This means that it's good, but at this point in its story, not particularly stand-out.
While the character designs aren't particularly memorable either, I will say that the art by Kugayama Reki is fantastic - detailed, with plenty of shading, sharp attention to detail and page layouts that are lively and interesting make for a very pleasant read indeed. I don't feel like we know the cast as well as I'd like, and that interest is commendable as it shows that it not only kept my attention but has me wanting more of it.
I've enjoyed the first five chapters offered by the manga, it has a fun energy and plenty to keep you turning the pages - what I'd love to see next is the "big idea" that allows the book to carve its own niche, and I'll be happy to keep reading more to see where it's going.
Ross founded the UK Anime Network waaay back in 1995 and works in and around the anime world in his spare time.
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